Getting started

Getting started in para equestrian has never been easier!

Para - Keysoe

Becoming a member

To enable you to access all of the support and competitions that we offer, the first place to start is to become a British Dressage member. You and your horse need to be a minimum of a Club member to get started and competing in the Bronze Rider group tests. If you then wish to attend a para championship and/or move up to the Silver/Gold Rider Group tests, you and your horse would then need to upgrade to a Full membership.



Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: Classifications have resumed in line with government guidelines, please refer to British Equestrian for any possible updates.

To compete in national competitions the rider must have an Eligible Impairment which must be permanent, verifiable and measurable. All para equestrian riders are required to go through the PE Classification application two-step process; submit the relevant forms and medical information and if you are eligible you will have to be physically classified an Athlete Evaluation (physical assessment). Conducted through the British Equestrian (BEF), the classification is completed by a qualified Classifier who assesses power, coordination and range of movement of the athlete. 

As result of the assessment, the rider will be awarded with a profile that will place them into one of the five Grades (I, II, III, IV or V), as follows:

Grade I Athletes in Grade I have severe impairments affecting all limbs and trunk. The Athlete usually requires the use of a wheelchair. They may be able to walk with an unsteady gait. Trunk and balance are severely impaired.
Grade II                Athletes in Grade II have either a severe impairment of the trunk and minimal impairment of the upper limbs or moderate impairment of the trunk, upper and lower limbs. Most Athletes in this Grade use a wheelchair in daily life.
Grade III Athletes in Grade III have severe impairments in both lower limbs with minimal or no impairment of the trunk or moderate impairment of the upper and lower limbs and trunk. Some Athletes in this Grade may use a wheelchair in daily life.
Grade IV Athletes in Grade IV have a severe impairment or deficiency of both upper limbs or a moderate impairment of all four limbs or short stature. Athletes in Grade IV are able to walk and generally do not require a wheelchair in daily life. Grade IV also includes Athletes having a visual impairment equivalent to B1 with very low visual acuity and/or no light perception.
Grade V Athletes in Grade V have a mild impairment of movement or muscle strength or a deficiency of one limb or mild deficiency of two limbs. Grade V also includes Athletes with visual impairment equivalent to B2 with a higher visual acuity than visually impaired Athletes competing in Grade IV and/or a visual field of less than 5 degrees radius.

Riders with visual impairment are Classified by British Blind Sport (BBS). Visually impaired riders interested in being classified need to contact British Blind Sport and get it converted by British Equestrian (BEF) for the Para Equestrian Grade. 

Please note, you receive Grade B1 or B2 by BBS you must have a confirmed diagnosis to get your Grade converted for PE Grade. 

Intellectual disability doesn’t currently fall into the current FEI classification guidelines. For more information on classification, view the BEF's website:


Watch the video below for more information on classification in para sport:


Para dressage classes mirror the able bodied structure and are split into three sections – Bronze, Silver and Gold. There are also Para Intro Shows, created to help riders bridge the gap between RDA dressage competitions and affiliated British Dressage competitions. Visit our competitions section to find out how you can start competing with us:


Regional training

Para-equestrian dressage training is increasingly being organised within the regions, and usually costs £5-20 per session. To find out what is available in your area, speak to your Regional Development Officer (RDO) or regional para representative:

BEF Youth Development & Performance Pathway Handbook

The 120-page handbook outlines the various stages that an aspiring rider might go through as they progress through their chosen discipline, starting at entry level and progressing through the various development stages  up to being an athlete at the upper levels of the World Class Programme. The narrative is broken down into three sections – the journey into the sport, the journey onto the performance pathway and the journey onto the podium – and each provides clear guidance to riders who are working towards or taking their first steps into this stage of their equestrian career. It is also highlights how sport can be a great way to acquire transferable skills, especially for those that keep riding as their leisure sport.


Become a member

Sign up to a British Dressage membership for exclusive benefits!